What is regenerative?
I describe my consulting as regenerative in the context of Carol Sanford’s model of four levels of businesses operating mode. The first is a scarcity-based self-serving model, and the subsequent models are increasingly more trust-based and pro-social.
EXTRACTION: Sanford notes that the most common business mindset has been to try to get as much out as they can while putting in as little as necessary. This is often a short term strategy of extracting from external resources. This is often done without concern for balance, because the so-called invisible hand is depended on to direct resources where they are needed. Many unintentionally slip into a habit of extracting from relationships such as employees, business partners, and even supportive family members.
ARREST DISORDER: In Sanford’s model, a step up from that most prevalent operating mode is to arrest disorder, meaning to offer something better, something less extractive and more sustainable, as you overcome specific problems that are seen in other service or product offerings.
DO GOOD: Another step up is to do good by working from generic best practices or ideals, such as non-profits and b-corps intend. These businesses understand that over the long term, the extractive model doesn’t give the optimal value return.
REGENERATIVE: Sanford’s most-encouraged level is regenerative, meaning to use systems thinking to consider the whole, how the various parts work synergistically, and how to heal the ruptures within it. I reached a point at which it no longer felt satisfying to work on projects in which I was paid to simply solve a specific problem for someone, because even though I was helping that particular person reach a goal important to them, there was often little or no societal benefit. At times I felt a need to decline work that was possibly a societal detriment, depending on the client’s or organization’s ongoing intentions and attitudes. Working at a regenerative level, I have an eye on the systems my work impacts. I also offer guidance for the whole person’s wellbeing, knowing their business or reform efforts will be more successful when they give sufficient attention to physical and emotional wellbeing.